Owatonna to Declare State of Emergency
The City of Owatonna will declare a State of Emergency at the council meeting on Tuesday night. Mayor Tom Kuntz was joined by City Administrator Kris Busse in an on-air segment on AM 1390 KRFO Tuesday morning. Kuntz said Owatonna fire chief Mike Johnson will among the special guests at Tuesday's meeting to explain what a state of emergency will mean for the community.
Kuntz said reaction to the coronavirus outbreak has been an evolution, "It changes on a minute-by-minute basis. The things that we talk about now may have changed in an hour from now."
"We're going to be declaring a state of emergency tonight at the city council (meeting). What does that mean and how it will effect everybody. We will have our state representatives and senator tonight to give us an overview."
Attendance will be limited at the council chambers, but a special video feed is being set up to view the meeting at the Owatonna Arts Center. The council meeting will also become available on local cable on Wednesday according to Kuntz. Dr. Brian Bunkers, CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System will be attendance as well with an update from the healthcare perspective.
Kuntz said the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce is surveying their members to find out which will be offering carry out during the state mandated shutdown that goes into effect Tuesday, March 17 at 5 pm.
"We want to make sure that we don't create panic. We want to continue to support our local environments and our local people. If they offer carryout's, please take advantage of that."
Busse announced that closures include the Owatonna Public Library, West Hills Social Commons, West Hills Tennis and Fitness, along with community education programs. Tentative closures last through March 29 for the time being, coinciding with the initial announcement of school closure from the governor. The city administration building will be closed to the public beginning on Wednesday, March 18, "We are making sure our critical needs, our critical infrastructure are still being kept." Information on contacting the city is available on their website and Facebook page.
She says police and fire are prioritizing their work, "They are using alternate methods in terms of dealing with lower priority calls. Our fire department, as well, focusing on suppression and rescue, and has suspended some of the inspections on rentals and nuisance items of that nature for the next couple of weeks."